Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom is probably one of the most awaited freedom of religion judgments of recent times. Twelve third parties intervened in the case. The judgment in fact covers four big cases brought by Christian applicants, complaining that they had suffered religious discrimination at work. This week and next week, the Strasbourg Observers will give the judgment the attention it deserves. In this post, I will stick to the general Article 9 principles of the judgment and to their application to the cases of Ms. Eweida and Ms. Chaplin. Next week, we will focus on McFarlane and Ladele.
The Court’s Article 9 reasoning is praiseworthy for several reasons. First, the Court offers a clear analysis of what counts as “manifestation of religion or belief.” Then, the Court refuses to quickly dismiss the freedom of religion complaints at the interference stage, leaving behind the freedom to resign doctrine. Moreover, in Eweida and Chaplin, the Court shows a strong concern for what is at stake for applicants manifesting their religion at work in the balancing stage. In essence, all this shows that the Court takes freedom of religion more seriously.